SDG Lab News Dispatch: March 2019

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(You can download a PDF version of this newsletter here.)

Dear friends,
2019 has gotten off to a quick start. At the SDG Lab we have been busy wearing our different hats as a connector, amplifier, question asker and innovator.
In this edition of our newsletter, we recap some of our activities since January and highlight upcoming connections. So, let’s dive in:

What’s been happening

  • On 16 January, the SDG Lab moderated a panel of diverse voices engaged in Protecting human rights and implementing the 2030 Agenda. This was part of a one-day Human Rights Council inter-sessional meeting focused solely on the topic. The event was organized under the theme of “Empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality”, which, as many of you know, is the theme of this coming July’s High-Level Political Forum. The red thread of the discussion was ensuring the voices of people who are not at the decision-making table are heard and considered in SDG implementation. You can watch the full panel discussion by visiting UN Web TV on demand.

  • Davos… Need we say more? SDG Lab Advisor Kali Taylor led a WEF ‘off-piste’ discussion on Accelerating SDG Finance through Collaboration, held at the Sustainable Impact Hub on January 23; the hub is a joint initiative by several UN and humanitarian organizations. The panel of experts—from private finance and development sectors—did a deep dive on what’s needed to significantly boost investment in the SDGs. If you are keen on knowing more about the panel, read Kali’s summary or watch the livestream.    

  • SDG investing in the classroom. We were excited to kick-off the Graduate Institute’s latest executive programme focused on SDG Investing. It was exhilarating to be surrounded by this cohort of seasoned professionals who want to build investments that will contribute to the SDGs. A key message we delivered to students was the importance of bringing the finance and development communities together and promoting greater cross-fertilization of knowledge and resources for the goals.

  • 2019 Humanitarian Networks and Partnerships Week. This week-long annual gathering in Geneva is often compared to the equivalent of Woodstock, Burning Man or Coachella for humanitarian actors. Regardless of whichever connotation makes sense to you, it’s clear that the HNPW is a premier platform to engage in this important space. Together with the Permanent Mission of Switzerland, we organized a discussion on the humanitarian-development nexus, held on February 6. With a full house, we began unpacking a perception held by some that the SDG agenda could hamper humanitarian responses. Through rapid-fire exchanges, a consensus quickly emerged that underscored the importance of achieving common SDG-related objectives across the nexus. If this topic sparks your interest, do read the full summary, accessible via the above link.

  • Blockchain - a new frontier for sustainable development. On March 7, experts from Switzerland’s Crypto Valley and Geneva’s international development community converged at the Palais for a talk on blockchain’s contribution to leaving no one behind. Organized by the Lab and the Permanent Missions of Canada, Jamaica and Switzerland, we invited blockchain enterprises based in the Canton of Zug and a representative of the UN Economic Commission for Europe to speak to the role of decentralized digital ledger technology—or blockchain—in helping achieve the SDGs. The panel highlighted blockchain’s primary characteristics and applications, including in cross-border transactions, provenance tracking, humanitarian relief and digital identity, as well as the challenges facing the technology. The Lab moderated the talk, and we expressed our support in helping continue the dialogue between the blockchain and sustainable development communities and furthering opportunities to support SDG implementation.

  • A new year, a new website.The start of the year provided impetus to give the SDG Lab website an update to better reflect how we have grown since coming online in 2017. We redesigned the site to focus more on the Lab’s activities and to make it easier for visitors to see our latest developments. Importantly, our website is now available in French; just in time to mark French Language Day – Journée de la langue française – on March 20.

  • In the news. Media interviews about the Lab were recently published providing a glimpse into how we came about, why the SDGs are important and what citizens can do to help realize and take part in the 2030 Agenda. One aspect that we learned through these interactions is that we all need to boost greater awareness of the Goals, particularly among the press. If you would like to read and listen to these interviews, refer to these links: World Radio Switzerland | Capital Finance International.

Upcoming connections

  • 2019 UNECE Regional Forum | March 21-22: The 2019 Regional Forum for Sustainable Development for the UNECE Region starts today. From 21-22 March, representatives of UNECE member States, the UN and other international organizations, as well as civil society, will be in Geneva to share SDG implementation practices. This year’s forum will focus on SDGs 4 (Quality Education), 8 (Decent Work & Economic Growth), 10 (Reduced Inequalities), 13 (Climate Change) and 16 (Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions); corresponding to the Goals under review at the July HLPF. The SDG Lab will be at the Regional Forum in two capacities: participating in the exhibition area and moderating the last session titled “Connecting the Dots”. For the exhibition, we are experimenting with what we’re calling the “SDG Linkages Board”. We have invited participants to ‘show and tell’ the SDG connections they, their government or organization are making between two or more Goals. We’re hoping to catch some great photos and videos to share during and after the forum. Follow the Regional Forum on Twitter @UNECE and #RFSD2019.

  • So What: Peace and SDGs | April 1: For our next “So What”, we are taking a slightly different approach than in the past: instead of exploring the interactions between two seemingly unconnected SDGs, we are focusing on Goal 16 – “Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions” – and its relationship across the full spectrum of the SDGs. This special So What will take place on 1 April in collaboration with the UN Peacebuilding Support Office, better known as PBSO. More details and registration info can be found at www.sdglab.eventbrite.com.

In the Loop
If you have an event or activity that you would like the Lab team to be aware of, do not hesitate to reach out to us: sdg-lab@un.org. We would be happy to discuss further.

Best regards,
Nadia Isler and the SDG Lab team